Dianna Deniston, an Instructional Coach at Victor Ornelas Elementary School in Garden City, Kan., was recently named the 2015 Janet Sims Memorial Teacher of the Year by the Kansas Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom (KFAC). Deniston will be honored with the award at the Bookmark Art and Teacher of the Year celebration during Kansas Ag Month in March 2015.
Deniston integrates agriculture into her classroom coming up with the idea to have an Ag Math Harvest Day after taking a KFAC course at K-State.
"I learned about the investment of the agriculture industry into this program and made a commitment to take what I had learned and the enthusiasm back to my school and create an opportunity for the students to experience agriculture though math," Deniston says.
She wants to get students excited about agriculture, because Finney County's economic existence is based on agriculture. Many of the parents of students at Victor Ornelas Elementary School work in agriculture, but the kids know little about it.
Deniston was able to incorporate math that tied to agriculture by setting up stations in two gyms that where activities at each encouraged students to use both math and agriculture. For example, one station was entitled Pumpkin Pie in a Bag, where students measured liquid and dry ingredients using cups and smaller units.
"We'd like to congratulate Dianna on her teaching accomplishments," said Cathy Musick, KFAC executive director. "She is definitely a role model for her peers and very deserving of the award. KFAC applauds teachers who implement agriculture into their classrooms. It's encouraging to see creative examples of knowledge gained during summer institutes applied in a school district!"
As KFAC's Teacher of the Year, Deniston will have the opportunity to attend the National Agriculture in the Classroom (NAITC) Conference, which will be held in Louisville, Ky., June 2015. High Plains Journal will sponsor her trip.